Retail sales are continuing to gain momentum in time for the busiest shopping season of the year. According to the National Retail Federation, October retail sales in the GAFS category (general merchandise stores, clothing and clothing accessories stores, furniture and home furnishings stores, electronics and appliances stores, and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores) increased 5.8 percent from the same period last year and were unchanged month-to-month.

October retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) dropped 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted for the month due to sluggish sales of automotives. Retail sales rose 6.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“The stage has been set for the holiday season and retailers are ready to perform,” said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells. “October gains continue to reinforce our holiday forecast.”

Since September 16, NRF has forecast a 5.7 percent increase in holiday sales (defined as GAFS sales in the months of November and December), which would be the highest increase since 1999.

Despite warmer weather during the month, apparel sales performed well in October, with sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores rising a strong 5.8 percent unadjusted for the year and 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month. Furniture and home furnishings stores also rose by 11.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year and 1.0 percent adjusted month-to-month. Additionally, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers soared 12.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year and 1.6 percent adjusted from September.